If your child is anxious often or only on certain occasions our go-to Board Certified Pediatrician, Dr. Deepa Sukumar, offers advice to help calm them (and you too). Because don't we know that an anxious child can upset the whole family dynamic.
Empathize often- Anxiety can be paralyzing for a child. Empathizing with your child who feels anxious is essential. This makes them understand they are not alone and you will guide them through it.
Preview anxiety provoking situations - Consider touring new places (like camps, schools) with your child ahead of time if your child has social anxiety.
Set clear expectations - It is essential to have similar expectations for anxious children that you have for non-anxious children. However, it is helpful to proceed at a slower pace and make some accommodations for them. Also help your child break a big task into smaller tasks that he/she can accomplish. You can also help with role-play or act out possible ways how your child can handle a difficult situation. Setting clear expectations and helping your child create appropriate benchmarks to meet those expectations teaches your child she/he can work through anxious feelings.
Practice reframing - Anxious thought cycle is overwhelming because it causes feelings of helplessness. When anxiety occurs, the child is caught in a cycle of "what ifs" and "I can'ts". Anxious kids tend to engage in a variety of cognitive distortions such as black and white thinking and overgeneralizing. Carve out regular time to work on the positive reframing of the mind. It works like this -
* Name the worry that is floating around in your brain right now.
* What is the worry telling you?
* Let's break it down and see if that worry is 100 % right.
* How can we take that worrying thought and make it into a positive thought?
Model confidence- Children register anxiety radiating from parents. Try to be mindful of what you model through your words and body language. Work on your anxiety issue if it that is a concern. And always, get sound sleep, eat healthy meals together, drink plenty of water, and outdoor free play all help combat anxiety in your child.
If you need to reach a Pediatrician immediately, Dr. Sukumar is available via secure video for medical advice. You can reach out to her via her website www.gracemdconnect.com.
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